If you’re like many Americans, you may be working on your taxes for the past year. As the deadline approaches, it can cause a great deal of stress. Sometimes it is even necessary to file an extension.
If you’re tired of the stress that tax time creates for you, then start right now in organizing your paperwork for this year, so that doing your taxes next year will not be as difficult.
Organize Your Digital Tax Documents
Create a folder in your main email account for all online purchases. If you run a business or do any work from home, use a separate email address, to keep track of payments and expenses.
File your receipts into a “Receipts” folder and save those on a flash drive that you can store along with your tax return when it’s done next year. According to Bargain Babe, cloud based storage can also be used for storage of tax information.
Organize Your Physical Tax Documents
There may be some files you’d like to save the old-fashioned way. An accordion file works well for W2s, 1099s, home improvement receipts, mortgage interest statements and property tax receipts. Everything will be easily accessible next year.
Be sure that you write down the date and what the purchase was when you file your receipts. Otherwise, you may not remember what you bought, by the time tax time rolls around next year.
If you make donations to Goodwill, Salvation Army or other charities and they are property rather than cash, get a receipt when you drop your items off. Don’t be surprised, if you donate more than $500 of goods, if you are asked when those items were purchased, how you acquired them (gifts, etc), how much they cost originally and how you determined their basic thrift store value.
By keeping close track of your records as the year goes along, you won’t be stuck next year at tax time trying to find receipts from boxes and piles. Organization makes the whole process less stressful.
Some people love spring-cleaning. Others dread it. Either way, it is a chance to open your windows and create cleaner spaces in your home. You may have a short or long list of spring-cleaning tasks, but don’t let them bog you down. You don’t have to complete them all in one day.
In the foyer, wash your trim and switch plates. Dust the lighting fixtures and clean the bench, if you have one. If your bench has a cushion, launder it if it is machine washable. Empty out your coat closet and replace your heavy winter coats with your lighter spring and raincoats. If you find coats you don’t wear anymore, you can donate them.
In your bedrooms, open the windows and dust all of the furniture. Remove items from drawers and stack them neatly. Remove clothing from closets and sweep and mop or vacuum the closet floors.
Move your bed and put away anything that was under the bed. Sweep or vacuum beneath the bed. Freshen up your mattress by sprinkling baking soda on it, allowing it to sit for a little while, and them vacuuming it off. Wash bedding and curtains.
In bathrooms, open the windows. Empty the vanity and cabinets and set aside anything you will be throwing out. Clean the tub or shower very well, and clean the drain. Clean the mirror well and take out and wash the window screens.
In your kitchen, clean the window coverings and mini blinds, if you have them. Remove items from drawers, wipe out each drawer, and place all your items neatly back in the drawers. Wash cutting boards well and sanitize them. Organize and clean your pantry, and discard foods that are expired. Clean the oven and stovetop. Clean under your stove and refrigerator. Wash your counters and backsplash.
When the snow finally melts, it’s time to think green, even if your lawn is still brown. There are plenty of activities that allow you to celebrate spring, even if the weather is still a little chilly.
Plant something green to officially welcome spring to your yard. Take a lunch on Saturday or Sunday and head to the park for a picnic. Go for a short jog, and feel the slightly warmer air as you breathe evenly in and out. Be careful not to overdo it, if you haven’t been working out indoors during the winter.
Another physical activity that gets you close to nature is hiking. Most cities have hiking trails, and you can enjoy the new life springing forth all around you. Riding a bike will also give you a chance to notice all the new signs of spring. Again, don’t ride too far if you’ve been a couch potato during the winter. You don’t want to injure yourself.
Take advantage of any reason to go outside on the milder spring days. Sit outside at a café table and sip on coffee or tea. Visit your local zoo or a farm, to see the animals reacting to spring. Horses love to frolic on newly green grass, and they are great fun to watch. If your town has had a hard winter – and who hasn’t, this year? – take time to play a round of golf. This puts you in the middle of nature and you should play at your own pace if you haven’t exercised all winter. If there are faster players behind you, let them play through. You want a relaxing round.
The windy days of spring give you a great excuse to fly a kite. Sure, they may be made for kids, but you can take your child or grandchild to a suitable kite flying area, without overhead lines, and enjoy being outdoors.